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Senior state facilities management veteran to lead campus construction

Jim Russell, director of the State Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM), will take the helm of University of Utah facilities management.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Labrum announced Russell’s appointment this week.

“As we reimagine and enhance the University of Utah’s physical spaces, Jim Russell has the wealth of knowledge and experience to help guide campus development into the future,” Labrum said. “His skill at building strategic partnerships and collaborating with both internal and external partners is essential to aligning efforts on our 1,500-acre main campus and beyond.”

Russell has worked at DFCM for nearly 20 years, including seven years as the division’s director, and currently oversees more than 700 construction projects valued at more than $5.5 billion. He directly manages more than 200 facilities statewide, property acquisition and sales, and over 240 property leases. Russell also oversees the management of another 3,800 state facilities.

“His long tenure working in state government will be invaluable as the university collaborates with state leaders, our peer institutions and industry to build the campus of the future,” Labrum said.

Russell led DFCM’s efforts to develop both the new $1.05 billion state prison and the Inland Port in Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant—performing environmental, cultural and geotechnical due diligence, and acquiring the land. He also serves on the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority Board (POMSLA).

“I look forward to joining the University of Utah at a time of unprecedented growth and innovation,” Russell said. “This is an exciting time to be involved in the planning and management of the higher education campus of the future.”

Russell started his career as the owner of an electrical construction company, working as a construction manager and contractor for 22 years, before joining state government in 2005. A graduate of the University of Phoenix and Salt Lake Community College, he will receive SLCC’s Distinguished Alumni award this May.

Russell’s first day will be March 18. He replaces former Chief Facilities Officer Robin Burr, who served in the job for seven years.